As Yankee fans, we pride ourselves on having a sense for the moment, a nose for history and a superior baseball IQ.
But we blew it when it came to Jorge Posada’s last game as a Yankee. And we owe him an apology.
Flashback to Nov. 1, 2001, to Game 5 of the World Series. My girlfriend and I were lucky enough to be sitting in the first row of the Loge, just above Paul O’Neill in right field.
We all know what happened when O’Neill trotted out to his position, down 2-0 in the top of the 9th inning, in what would be the last home game of his career. The moment doesn’t need to be detailed, for it stands as a great Yankee moment in the history of the storied franchise.
Now flash to Oct. 6, 2011. The Yankees are behind 3-2 at home to the Tigers in Game 5 of the Divisional Series. Detroit’s Joaquin Benoit is on the mound in the bottom of the 8th when Posada steps to the plate for what was likely his last at-bat as a Yankee after 15 years in pinstripes.
Again, I was lucky enough to be at the game with a group of Patch editors, one of whom I reminded a handful of times that it could be Posada’s last game. I wondered aloud what type of sendoff he would receive from the crowd at the new Yankee Stadium.
As Posada stepped to the plate, I moved to the railing (we were in standing room behind first base) and applauded, hoping to spur the crowd’s sense of history. It was wholly absent.
Jorge grounded out to shortstop and jogged back to the dugout. The moment had passed and what I’ve come to know to be true about the crowds at the new stadium was again confirmed.
This is not the same crowd as across the street. The people at this game were not among the more than 100,000 who lined up around the old ballpark for playoff tickets in 1996.
Here was a Yankee great, who has played more games in a Yankee uniform than all but seven players. Eighth on the Yankee home run list. A five-time all-star. Owner of five World Series rings (though he only had a cup of coffee in 1996).
Jorge, who is retiring, deserved a proper goodbye, and we blew the chance to give him one on Oct. 6. On behalf of all Yankee fans, I’m sorry Jorge.